The Pendulum of Compassion – Evaluate Your Team and Culture

Posted on May 17, 2023 by Nate Regier / 0 comments
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Compassion at work is good for business. Do you have a compassionate work culture? How do you know?

The Pendulum of Compassion

Imagine a pendulum of compassion. A swing to the left represents more compassion. A swing to the right represents less compassion. We could apply this lens to any situation or work culture by asking ourselves, “What would it look like to respond with more compassion? Less compassion?”


Pendulum of Compassion

Attack those who are different or disagree

This represents the least compassion possible. Cancel culture, prejudice, discrimination and drama all arise from the attitude that disagreement is bad, differences are a threat, and life is a win-lose competition. Left unchecked, this can escalate into self-justified acts of physical violence.

Us vs them silos

When teams, departments, or divisions put their own interests and goals above serving the company mission, they align around a common identity, and support each other to the detriment of the greater good. With a scarcity mindset, they clamor for resources and control information. It’s seductive for VPs and department leaders to become more loyal to their employees than they are to the organization.

You do you. I’ll do me.

Let’s agree to disagree. I’ll leave you alone and you leave me alone. We will tolerate each other’s differences as long as we can stay out of each others’ way. While there’s no overt malice, this apparent middle ground of compassion is a pergatory lacking energy, enthusiasm, or investment. Is this where your DEI initiatives stalled out?

We empathize with each others’ struggle

There’s comfort in knowing we are all struggling. At least we aren’t alone. But that’s not enough. We have to take the next step to get alongside each other in the struggle and create something better, together. After all, the real definition of compassion means “to suffer with.”

Our fates are interdependent

In a truly compassionate work culture we recognize that being “in this together” means we rely on each other. We need resources, inputs and expertise from other divisions. We need cooperation across departments to increase efficiencies. To solve the biggest problems we have to realize that the best idea doesn’t care who had it. And, unless people feel safe, connected and included, the best you can expect is compliance, not engagement.

Assess Your Work Culture on the Compassion Pendulum

  1. Where is your culture on the pendulum? How do you know? What behaviors or dynamics do you experience?
  2. What are the costs and consequences of this level of compassion in your organization?
  3. What would you like to be different?
  4. What can you do today to infuse more compassion into your daily interactions?

Explore the Five Eras of Compassion in the Workplace, and learn how to embed the Compassion Mindset into your culture in my new book, Compassionate Accountability: How Leaders Build Connection and Get Results. 

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2023

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